KAWASAKI – Nagoya Grampus striker Kengo Kawamata stated his case to new Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic with a brace in a 3-1 win against Kawasaki Frontale in the Nabisco Cup on Wednesday.
Under the gaze of Halilhodzic who was among the crowd at new-look Todoroki Stadium, Kawamata struck in the 49th and 88th minutes, with Kensuke Nagai also on target for the visitors in the Group B match.
Two-time World Cup forward Yoshito Okubo scored for Frontale in a plea for a place on Halilhodzic’s first squad, which will be announced Thursday.
Kawasaki got off to a fast start as Yahiro Kazama’s men controlled the early phases on opening night of the league cup competition.
Yu Kobayashi took a stab at the Nagoya goal in the ninth minute after being set up by Renato, but Yoshinari Takagi came up with a big save to deny the Japanese international.
The hosts, however, would break through three minutes later from a throw-in when new Brazilian signing Elsinho headed back to Okubo, who beat Takagi with a header of his own.
Kawasaki looked capable of compounding the damage before halftime, but Nagoya slowly found its way into the game and equalized three minutes from intermission.
Converted right-back Kisho Yano crossed from the right for the far post, where Nagai beat Yuto Nagaoka to the first touch for the equalizer.
Grampus picked up where they left off in the first half when Kawamata struck off his own rebound after stinging the palms of Yohei Nishibe with a header from a corner.
With the clock ticking down, Kawamata put the game beyond doubt by scoring on the break, off the hands of Takagi, as Akira Nishino’s side won their first game of the year.